Yesterday afternoon I was in St. Mary Abbots in Kensington rehearsing for the evening performance of Messiah when something very strange happened, something curious enough that I need to set it down so that I can come back to it in the future.  We were running the bass aria from Part III (The trumpet shall sound) and our soloist missed a couple of leads – nothing really to write home about thus far.

However, what the conductor, facing the orchestra, could not see was the sight that had greeted the rest of us about half way through the aria, the sight that put our soloist off his stride.  The west door of the church opened, and in walked Father Christmas.

You may think I am joking, have perhaps partaken of a seasonal mulled wine too many, but if so then this was a mass hallucination, for up the north aisle he strode, slowly and surely as we (slightly faster but by now far less surely) continued our rehearsal.  We took our break almost immediately thereafter and checked with each other whether we had all seen the same thing.

I went to the vestry and asked “This may sound a little odd, but did Father Christmas just come by here?” and they told me that he was upstairs getting the bags that he had left there earlier.  I waited a little at the foot of the stairs and, sure enough, down he came a moment later.

As he went past he said “I hope you’ve been a good boy, and don’t forget to tidy your room,” and with that he was off.  The strangest thing is that all of this is true, and it should be obvious that the second half of the rehearsal tripped along with a real spring in its step, although I kept having distracted thoughts about the state my room was in…

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